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Greenpeace hold Titanic protest over Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 19.22.09Press Association: 3 August 2015

Environmental campaigners have begun a month of protests over oil giant Shell’s efforts to drill in the Arctic with a Titanic-themed orchestral performance.

Greenpeace is holding protests outside Shell’s London headquarters against the company’s attempts to undertake oil drilling in the Arctic, which the campaigners warn could lead to environmental disaster and worsen climate change.

The protests began with a performance of Requiem for Arctic Ice, an orchestral piece inspired by the famous story of the musicians continuing to play as the Titanic sank after it hit an iceberg, by the Crystal Palace Quartet and supporting musicians.

The move aims to encourage Shell’s UK staff to challenge their bosses on Arctic drilling, and protesters were offering free copies of the music and a whistle-blower email to employees as they arrived for work.

Mel Evans, Arctic campaigner, said: “This protest is about reaching into the hearts of Shell employees and asking them to help Shell avert disaster.

“The Titanic was doomed because its design couldn’t outsmart the icy ocean. Shell is also vastly underestimating the risks it faces in the Arctic.

“If Shell tries to drill in the harsh Arctic environment then oil spills are inevitable. And an oil spill in the remote Arctic would be impossible to clean up, leaving local people and wildlife to suffer the consequences for years.”

The protests in the UK follow demonstrations in the US, with “kayaktivists” protesting in Seattle and a 40-hour hanging blockade from a bridge in Portland claiming victory in preventing Shell’s icebreaker leaving port.

Greenpeace is concerned that the extreme conditions in the Arctic makes drilling very risky, with a high likelihood of oil spills which it is feared would be impossible to clean up and would endanger the region’s unique wildlife.

And with a limited amount of fossil fuels that can be burned if the world is to keep rising temperatures in check, scientists have ruled out drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic as “inconsistent” with efforts to tackle climate change.

Melting Arctic ice as a result of climate change is opening up the region to increased fishing and fossil fuel exploration, and Shell has already spent billions of dollars attempting to find oil and gas in its icy waters, though it has been dogged by operation issues and protests.

Shell said it respected people’s right to protest but criticised the Greenpeace “publicity stunt”.

A spokesman for the company said: “We believe we can play an important role in developing the Arctic’s energy resources. We choose to explore there because we have the expertise and experience to operate responsibly and be profitable at the same time.

“Many Arctic peoples and governments agree with that judgment. They support the opportunity to explore for oil and gas in their territories and those governments have awarded Shell the licences to conduct those operations.

“The reality is that hydrocarbons will remain a major part of the world’s energy system for many years, not least because they provide the path to prosperity for many millions of people in the developing world, enabling them to enjoy living standards that the western world takes for granted.”

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